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Your assignment is to read the term paper submissions of two classmates, and write an analysis (similar to what you did for Ex 4, where you evaluated an academic article). Ex 8 should be about 3 pages long.Remember that a peer critique is an act of frendship and solidarity. You can't boost your own grade by tearing down your classmate, and nobody is going to benefit if you flatter your classmate excessively. Constructive criticism notes both strengths and weaknesses, and the presentation of weaknesses should be phrased helpfully, without any gloating or pettiness. (I don't think this group will have that problem, but it's a standard reassurance that I offer.)
For each of your two chosen paper papers, respond to the following. (Note that these questions may also help you as you finalize your draft.)
1) What specific, non-obvious claim does this paper support? (That's another way of asking for the thesis... remember that "There are many interesting things to say about X" or a question like "Is X an instance of A?" or "People who kick puppies are bad" are not thesis statements that require academic argument.)
2) What opposing or alternative arguments does this paper address?
3) If this were your draft, what would you be the most proud of? (Be specific.)
4) If this were your draft, and you had more time to work on it, what do you feel would be the most beneficial change? (Again, be specific.)
5) Include me on the CC line in an e-mail in which you share your analysis with your classmate.
You are free to use this page to arrange to swap papers with 2 classmates, in preparation for Ex 8.
To submit your work, post a link from this page to the URL of your entry.
The idea is to post an original essay on your site, full of links to good material online (such as interviews with game designers, newspaper stories or academic articles, screenshots, perhaps videos of people playing the game(s) you're focusing on), all coming together to teach the class an important concept.
Don't spend time summarizing what you find elsewhere in the internet -- make your point as efficiently as possible, and link to where your reader can get the full article you're citing.
Ask questions, spark conversations, teach us something we don't know, demonstrate your ability to apply concepts taken from the course readings (and the maxims such as "all art is constrained" or the mirror/window/lens model).
We've already looked at Leslie's presentation on Lara Croft. That should give you a good idea of what to shoot for.
You may include texts on the syllabus, or texts that you have found on your own. I recognize there may be value in non-academic sources, such as interviews with designers or reviews in magazines or on personal weblogs, but when you are writing a scholarly paper, you should draw mostly from scholarly sources (such as journal articles, full-length books, or a single essay published as part of a collection).
Begin with a full MLA-style citation, as you would format it for a Works Cited list. Unlike a WC list, however, I'm asking you to follow each entry with a short summary of the article (explaining what the author was trying to do), and following that with another short paragraph that explains how this specific item will help you explore the topic you are choosing for your term paper.
If you're doing a term paper on Sim City, I don't expect you to find ten peer-reviewed articles on Sim City. You will probably find a handful of great sources that at least mention Sim City in passing, but other articles might be even more useful if they discuss simulation games in general. An article that doesn't even mention games at all, but instead discusses some aspect of city planning in the real world, may be extremely useful.
Here's an example of an annotated bibliography on interactive fiction. My evaluations are all based on how useful each item is for those who are interested in studying interactive fiction. (You don't have to assign a ranking to each item, but you should still evaluate it -- this means you need to move beyond summarizing what the item contains, and instead focus on explaining why a specific quoted passage will help you accomplish a certain intellectual task... thus, I asked you to read Jesper Juul's early essay not because it perfectly matched my own opinions, but rather because I wanted you to see how much Juul's opinion changed over time.)
You don't need to commit to using all 10 of these items in your term paper. You don't have to use ANY of them... my goal is not to force to you to lock yourself in this early, but rather to ensure that you're exposing yourselves to the kind of meaty arguments that will help you to come up with a thesis that engages with the ideas you find in the scholarly sources.
Asking you to do this bibliography research now is my attempt to prevent the horrible experience you will face if you write your paper first (based only on ideas from your own head), and then "look for quotes" to support the argument you have already made. (It makes far more sense to find good quotes first, and then develop a thesis statement that you can actually support based on the evidence you've already found.)
As always, please feel free to contact me with questions or comments.
Ex 5 asks you to do some important advance work for your term paper. You are free to change your thesis, your topic, and your whole approach after you complete this exercise, so don't feel that this exercise is supposed to lock you in. It's simply supposed to ensure that you start the process of writing your research paper the right way -- by seeking out academic research first, and then coming up with an appropriate thesis that is supported by the available research. (Don't write your paper first and then "look for quotes" to support the opinion you had formed before you looked at any scholarly works... the arguments within the scholarly works are the building blocks you use in order to create your thesis.)
For Ex 5, supply the following information: